Round and About in Old Isleworth

It was last April that TIS received news of the Northumberland Estate’s appeal, to a First Tier Tribunal, against Asset of Community Value (ACV) status awarded by the Council at TIS’s request for Park Road Allotment Gardens. TIS agreed to submit evidence to support the Council’s decision.  This proved lengthy and onerous.   On 30th December 2016 Judge Jacqueline Findlay issued her verdict. The final paragraph reads “I conclude that the requirements for listing as an ACV are satisfied. The appeal is dismissed”.   Among her findings was “I am satisfied allotment land not only provides recreation and food for its direct users but also community benefits of green space and concomitant benefits to air quality and visual amenity”; also “I am not satisfied the available alternative site is so superior it would deter present or prospective allotment holders from wishing to retain the land and continue its present use”. 

The Judge’s unequivocal 12 page conclusion was relayed to TIS the day after a packed public meeting was held, arranged by agents of the Northumberland Estate, to discuss the two extant planning applications, one to build flats and houses on Park Road Allotment Gardens, the second to re-locate the allotments within Syon Park.   The 180+ residents who packed out Isleworth Public Hall that night made clear their views “up with it we will not put”.   It is hoped this strength of feeling in addition to the Tribunal findings, which have been passed to the Planning Department in support of further objections by TIS, will along with many other objections, be taken into account when the plans come before the Planning Committee.

TIS’s request to the Council to earmark S106 funds to restore the ornamental gates and pillars at Park Road cemetery was approved in February with a £10,000 allocation.  When the cemetery, with its 434 spaces allowing for 150 burials per annum, opened in 1880 the Middlesex Chronicle opined it “would become one of prettiest burial places in London”.  Not perhaps an apt description today but this restoration project will go a small way to improving the ambiance.   The original purchase price of the 6 acres 28 perches site was £4,769, with the chapels, lodge, mortuary, and fencing adding a further £6,870 to the cost.  Funding was achieved through a £12,000 loan at 4½% interest over 26 years.  To enable repayment a burial rate was levied on properties varying from ld to 6d in the pound.

As predicted in the last newsletter the missing bench was finally replaced on Isleworth Green 18 months after S106 monies were allocated by the Council.  The wait was worth it as an exact match was able to be found with those installed in the late 1980s.   In view of the fact TIS’s request for S106 monies to refurbish the existing seats on The Green did not materialise, enquiry of Carillion, the Council’s leisure provider responsible for maintenance, received a response that “the schedule for maintenance is due to begin 19th June when benches will be inspected and, dependant on the condition, minor repairs and/or high pressure washing or treatment undertaken”. It is to be hoped the latter “treatment” will involve restoration of those benches suffering badly from sun exposure.    

Ultimate fate of the devastated ancient mulberry tree at Silverhall Park is still awaited.  Concern over this and intentions in regard to the fencing in Mill Plat has led to re-forming of The Friends of Silverhall.  A petition was presented to Isleworth & Brentford Area Forum raising safety and environmental concerns if the Mill Plat fencing was removed. It was confirmed this was not proposed in the near future. Indications were given some while back by the Council that funding for repair of the badly damaged wall in St. John’s Gardens backing on to Kendall Road properties had been approved, but doubt has been thrown on this following recent enquiries.

A consultation appeared on the Council website relating to Northcote Avenue Open Space with an end date of 31st March.  It outlined an ambitious long term plan to transform this currently underused neglected asset into a nature reserve.  The vision includes creating an orchard, wild flower meadow and backwater inlet of the River Crane etc as well as implementing accessible paths and improvements to the entrance.  With c£100,000 of S106 monies earmarked for first stages of the project the Friends Group at the forefront of producing these plans is keen for work to get underway.

The “secondary” Worton Road entrance gate at Redlees was crushed beyond repair and reported to Carillion/LBofH early December last year.  Since then it has languished in the same appalling condition.  Despite the fact both gate and railings conform to the same style as the rest of the park and has been in use for entry since it opened in the 1930s, the Local Authority’s contention is they are unable to take responsibility due to uncertainty of ownership.  Assurances had been given over the past 2-3 years that ownership would be investigated and regularised, now the story has changed to “it will be considered under the Master Plan scheme”; this despite the fact this entry point does not feature in that documentation. It is however welcome news that S106 monies has been allocated towards Plan improvements with capital funds likely to be forthcoming for the children’s play area.  Meantime it is strange, given the inhospitable condition of both Worton Road entrances, that the Council regard the park as eligible for Green Flag status.  One criteria for this is “welcoming entrance points”!  

It is good to be able to report that work has started and continues in order to create the extension to the riverside path from Herons Place, through the former Nazareth House estate, with the intention to exit in Richmond Road just before Osterley Sea Scouts’ grounds.  The relevant Planning Consent stipulated the path should be complete prior to occupation of the development of apartments and houses, but was disregarded as well as several other conditions.  It remains to be seen if a celebration will be held when the continuous footpath is eventually opened to the public.

Relevant names are important to keep alive the area’s history when re-development takes place.  When the Poor Sisters of Nazareth sold, on a 999 year lease, their estate containing Isleworth House that had been their home since the late 1800s, it was stipulated the Nazareth name could no longer be used.   Taken from suggestions of TIS, the entry road is now Egerton Drive after a resident of the earlier Isleworth House on the site, Lady Elizabeth Egerton.  A sharp eyed local historian Mary Brown noticed that Octavia, responsible for operating the assisted living accommodation within the estate, were advertising this as “Bridge Wharf House” whereas the Council had agreed “Bridgewater”, recalling that once Countess Bridgewater had lived there.  TIS took up the discrepancy with the Council and Octavia have now agreed to correct the name.

Two turnings off London Road are Primrose Drive and Lanadron Close recognising buildings of the former Pears Soap Factory site at that location. Opposite Nos 396-418, currently being transformed into masses of apartments, will bear names relating to Falcon Works of Frazer Nash’s occupation in the 1930s, 40s and 50s.  Further along London Road, apartment blocks at 632-65, at the suggestion of TIS, bear names recording they are on the line of the old Roman road from London to Silchester, namely Wessex, Claudius, Silchester and Roman. 

At 579 London Road, although not entirely apposite as locations go, names will relate to nearby Worton Hall, formerly housing Isleworth’s Worton Studios.   This is where famous films such as The Ghost Goes West and African Queen were created.   The entry road is intended to be Samuelson Place after George B. Samuelson, producer/owner when the studios officially opened 1st July 1914.  Famed music hall artist and impersonator Vesta Tilley attended to cut the ribbon with gold scissors on that occasion.  One apartment block will be called Fairbanks after American actor Douglas Fairbanks Jnr, who, among others, acquired the studios in 1936.  A group of film buffs hope to arrange a celebration when building work is complete.  Among ideas for this is for films made at Worton to be shown at West Thames College where there are excellent TV and sound recording studios as well as a fine auditorium.

Installation of the commemorative plaque honouring Pocahontas on Syon’s perimeter wall has long been awaited.  It was fitting that unveiling of this took place 20th March around the date of the 400th anniversary of her death in the presence of H.R.H. The Duke of Gloucester, accompanied by Chief Emeritus Ken Adams, Chief Steve Admins and Chief Anne Richardson from relevant Virginian Powhatan tribes. Born 1595 in Virginia, Pocahontas was daughter of the powerful Chief of the Powhatans, instrumental in helping to maintain peace between local tribes and the new English settlers. She is reputed to have saved the life of one of these, John Smith, prominent amongst founder English settlers of Jamestown.  Later she married John Rolfe who introduced Bermudan tobacco to the area to become a mainstay crop.  In 1616 they came to England to promote support for the colony staying at a property within the vicinity of Syon approximately where the Post Office Sorting premises are now.  Readings of a new play - Gravesend : The Story of Pocahontas, by Kieran Knowles – are planned this year at places known to be associated with her life in England including Gravesend where she died when boarding a ship to return to her homeland.

With mention of Syon it is good to be able to report that the 1635 Moses Glover map, commissioned by the Earl of Northumberland, which provides a comprehensive record of the wider local area at that time has undergone some restoration.  It is now back in its rightful place in the house.

On Thursday 23rd February Charlotte House, Snowy Fielder Waye also held a celebratory event.  The Haywood Singers entertained with 50s/60s songs and Hounslow’s Mayor, Cllr Ajmer Grewal, cut a ribbon with an enormous pair of scissors to mark completion of refurbishment of 28 rooms in the ground floor Lancaster and Viscount suites.  Both are now of a very high standard, include two lounge areas and a smart hairdressing salon.  Overall the residential home has 56 rooms, specialising in providing care for those suffering all types of dementia.

A report, 551 pages long, detailing results of public consultations and monitoring of the 18 month Church Street trial closure, was tabled at Isleworth & Brentford Area Forum on 23rd March. It contained the recommendation closure should be made permanent.  The report’s findings indicate impact on traffic flow and marginal increase in bus times around the area is not considered severe, with air quality in the wider vicinity improved.  This however is countered by the fact the majority of respondents to the consultations are against closure.  The meeting was well attended and after an even handed airing of the findings, Councillors agreed, by a 7 – 4 majority with one abstention, to authorise continuation of closure.

Monday 3rd April is set as the start date to implement footway enhancement works at the Chestnut Grove shopping parade.  This is part of the on-going Twickenham Road Improvement Plan.  No update is available for when work will start to conserve Ivy Bridge over the River Crane, delayed through the sad sudden death of the officer responsible for overseeing the works.  This project now awaits re-allocation.  However introduction of inset parking bays is expected to come about in April/May outside shops at 16-20 St John’s Road.

It will have been noticed the programme to replace the Borough’s street lights with LED is largely complete.  There are still quite a few anomalies, not least where council lights have long existed in private roads and on unregistered land.  It is not within Hounslow Highway’s remit to replace these.   A long running saga has been the design to be used for replacement of Heritage style lighting columns.   After much consultation and a couple of false starts with proposals regarded as unacceptable by resident groups, a suitable solution was presented and agreed at Cabinet late March.  As far as Isleworth Riverside Conservation Area is concerned, it looks likely the change will be largely imperceptible when the scheme is implemented.  It will mean that the inappropriate temporary lanterns installed when the originals were stolen will be replaced.

Huge concern has been expressed at the destruction of an ancient hedge and rural like aspect of Syon Lane in the vicinity of where the new Nishkam School is being built and prospective site for the Grasshopper RFU relocation.  The current grounds of the latter is the proposed site for the new secondary school, Bolder Academy. Likewise, while it is accepted that All Saints’ churchyard required attention, the work currently being carried out on the face of it does initially appear somewhat drastic.

2017 celebrates 50 years since inception of Conservation Areas.  Isleworth Riverside Conservation Area is the largest in Hounslow Borough.  During the September walkabout of Isleworth with Council Leader, Cllr Curran, TIS expressed the hope the Council would highlight the value of preserving such areas.  This resulted in an article in the latest edition of Hounslow Matters.  It included indications that long overdue Conservation Area Appraisals, something TIS and other groups have been requesting for years, will commence once an additional Conservation Officer is in post.  Subsequent to the article TIS has been asked to submit one about the Glossop Memorial restoration as an example of a successful preservation project.  Further articles will also be considered to showcase the importance of the contribution of societies such as ours in enhancing and improving the local environment.

Towards the end of February the World Mission Society Church of God undertook a clean-up of Quakers Lane accumulating 20 plus full bags of litter in the process.  It seems that the lane suffers, as do other similar locations, from lack of a regular maintenance regime because it is either privately owned or perhaps unregistered land for which responsibility is unclear. The same situation obtains in respect of the alley leading from Linkfield Road to the Town School and part of the shrubbery in front of Isleworth Centre, Twickenham Road to name but two locally.  In regard to the latter, after constant lobbying the Council authorised Hounslow Highways to carry out litter-picking for a period although this did not cover other maintenance aspects.   Hounslow Highways has advised this arrangement has ceased although discussions are taking place with the Council to bring about a long term agreement.

Although far from set in stone July has tentatively been mooted for the long trailed hand over of management of Isleworth Public Hall to the trustees of Activebase Charitable Incorporated Organisation.  Heads of Agreement have been agreed but there is still a long way to go in finalising details of the lease and attendant responsibilities This is essential before Activebase can advance reinstatement of a Community Grant application made earlier in the process and is necessary to covering initial expenditure.  Friends of Isleworth Public Hall have lent assistance by applying for a further grant.  This is to enable much needed measured surveys to be carried out to focus on such areas as access for people with disabilities, especially those in wheelchairs. If the Friends’ application is successful and the survey undertaken it will complement the many alterations and fire safety works that have been carried out in recent times.

On 15th March Isleworth Public Hall was the chosen venue for the last in a series of consultation exhibitions held in the Borough.  This related to and set out details of the draft National Policy Statement for a possible new north-west runway at Heathrow Airport.  The Government’s stated preferred option is for a third runway at Heathrow but there is a long way to go before it is implemented. If the proposal is taken forward, for some residents currently not under a flight path it will mean they get planes overhead, for others less respite periods.  Overall the number of flights look likely to increase. The aim behind the consultation is to gain feedback on requirements the applicant for building the runway will need to satisfy in order to obtain planning consent.  It is open until 24th May 2017 and details can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/draft-airports-national-policy-statement.